The youngest of four children, my childhood had more ups than downs. Raised in a time where children were still free range, I spent hours outside with my friends. Living out in the country where trees, wild life, a creek (and river), and wide, open spaces made up my playground, I had plenty of opportunity to test my limits.
We were expected to take care of ourselves and be smart. I like to think it molded me into an intrepid adventurer, who took calculated risks, and gave me the gumption to start my own publishing houses.
The third grade saw the true beginning of my love affair with books and words. I had loved to read before this, but when I discovered the series Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was hooked. That series was quickly followed by Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and The Secret Garden, to name a few. I became a voracious reader. By fifth grade, I was reading The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. And, oh, how I wanted to be Jo from Little Women. Books opened up a whole new world for me, and I loved imagining myself in the worlds each author created.
In the sixth grade, I wrote my first story. It was a fan fic of a short story I’d read. It was, well, the first thing I’d written beyond essays and has disappeared somewhere. (I can’t say I’m sad about that. Grin)
Through grammar school, I was an average student and average in sports, except swimming. My entire family swam competitively, and I started competing at 4. I still have the ribbons (some of them blue). Every summer until I was 11, I swam with a local team. Even after I stopped competing for a few years, I swam in our own pool and spent hours upon hours in the creek and river. I was a strong swimmer, and, at age 9, my father made me swim the river to ensure I knew how to handle myself in it. I love to swim to this day and have even competed in Masters swim meets and won a few medals. This picture is from long course nationals.
High school was busy and fun. I set my sights on graduating with a 4.0. I played on the high school water polo team, swam with the varsity team, tried one semester of soccer (not my sport at all), performed in musicals and with the choir, competed on the high school rifle team one semester, and even won a few poetry contests. On top of this, I still managed to read several books for pleasure a year.
I was lucky. I had surrounded myself with friends who were as focused and goal driven as I was and just as supportive, not to mention the awesome teachers I had. At graduation, three young women, myself included, represented our high school as class valedictorians. (All of us were 4.0 students.)
That focus, independent thinking, and drive really helped me in college. Four years later, I graduated with magna cum laude from the University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music with my BA in Music, emphasis on vocal performance.
After graduation, I toured Europe alone for 5 ½ months with a backpack. I met a lot of wonderful people and visited many amazing places. There’s nothing like traveling alone to learn more about yourself. When I returned home, I was a completely different person.
Upon return, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting/music career in earnest. It wasn’t easy, but I finally joined a group, and we toured as an opening act for the Coasters and the Drifters. At the end of the tour, we went our separate ways, and I moved on to sing back up for Freddie Hart on his California tour.
Then, in 1993, my sister was killed in a car accident. This was probably one of the most difficult times in my life to that point, and my life took another turn.
I returned home and started writing chautauqua performances. All of my essay and non-fiction training that I had excelled at in high school and college hadn’t prepared me for writing these living history shows, but I adapted quickly and was soon performing all over the state of California. It was important to me to not only make them entertaining, but historically accurate as these shows were for students age third grade through high school. I wanted these kids to walk away with a desire to learn more. Apparently, I was successful as the feedback I received from teachers was that their students were full of questions and eager to study more about whatever period/subject I performed for them. My most popular shows were Lola Montes, a woman of the California Gold Rush time period, and A March of Women, a suffrage show about four important American women who agitated for women’s right to vote.
A few years later, I decided to continue my schooling and enrolled at CSU, Fresno, in their masters program. Here, I studied vocal performance. Three years later, I graduated summa cum laude with my MA in Music, a vocal performance emphasis. My master’s recital was a first for the university as I performed music composed by only women composers. This required a great deal of creative research as this predated the Internet. I even traveled to New York to attend a conference where I interviewed Dr. Judith Tick, a musicologist, and Peggy Seeger, folk singer, daughter of Ruth Crawford Seeger (a composer whose music I would be performing) and sister to Pete Seeger.
During those years, I traveled to Italy where I performed in a music festival and attended the NGO Women’s Conference in Beijing, China, as a delegate. I also attended an International Association of Women in Music conference and was published in their quarterly magazine.
With the completion of my degree, I once again moved down to Los Angeles. Here, I met my ex-roommate, Barry Gilfry, who became my partner in the publishing business. It was September 1999. The Internet was fairly new, and there were little, if any, literary magazines online. Barry had been a newspaper editor and an English major, and I had been a newsletter editor for a professional organization for two years and had earned As in every English/writing course I’d taken. Both of us were avid readers and saw the need for quality, edited prose online.
This was the beginning of Wild Child Magazine. Within two years, we were included in Writer’s Digest’s list of Top 100 Websites for Writers.
Unfortunately, Barry had some personal issues, and he turned over everything to me by mid 2000. I wasn’t ready to give up, and I prevailed. Five years later, Wild Child Magazine became Wild Child Publishing, and we opened our house to submissions. By early May of 2006, we’d published our first eBook.
Our goal has always been to produce entertaining, high quality stories. And I am proud to say that our eBooks have won EPIC Ebook Awards, the Australian R*by, the Laurel Wreath Award, have been nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, and have even been on USA Today’s bestsellers list.
Nine years later, we’ve published over 400 titles, a few of which are my own, and we are still dedicated to high quality, entertaining stories.
Wild Child Publishing wouldn’t be possible without my wonderful authors, talented editing and cover art team, or Charlie, my husband of fourteen years, who has been my rock and advisor, and my daughter, who has inspired me and shown me what it means to love unconditionally. I’m truly grateful to them all.